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Measurement of porphyrins and porphyrin precursors in blood, urine and faeces are the main tests for assessing patients with symptoms that may be caused by porphyria. Measurement of enzyme activities in cells and DNA testing for mutations are most useful for assessing people who may be affected but do not currently have symptoms and are close relatives of affected persons.

  • Measurement of porphobilinogen or PBG in urine is the most important test for diagnosing an acute neurological porphyria (AIP,VP or HCP).
  • Measurement of porphyrins in urine, faeces, red blood cells and blood plasma are used to differentiate the various types of porphyrias that may have the same symptoms.
  • Measurement of enzyme activity in red blood cells may be used to identify relatives of persons with AIP who also are potentially affected.
  • Identification of specific mutations in genes (DNA testing) may also be used to identify affected persons and potentially affected relatives once the specific mutation in the family is known. This is becoming the preferred option in many cases.

Last Review Date: December 21, 2018